The Bills earned their first win today!
Edwards and Offense again plays well
Trent Edwards once again delivered in the clutch when the team needed to score. I can already tell that this offense at least so far has been light years ahead of what we have had the last few years. Trent did throw an interception but you could tell that while he was careful about how many chances he took down field,....he DID take chances down field. These high risk passes may have influenced the interception but they also was responsible for two very nice TD passes and at least one huge would be gainer that was dropped. Alex Van Pelt's gameplan seemed to be geared mostly for Trent's strengths and featured quite a few short passes. But the difference was instead of 4-5 yards these passes were going for 10 yards and a first down. Which was simply huge for keeping the offense on the field. I can see now that in my last recap I was wrong about how much time the no-huddle was taking off the clock because with this game the difference was marginal and overall wasn't even a factor.
The passing game looked alive, and I want to acknowledge that Derek Schouman has been playing very well, getting open and making plays when they are needed. He made a difference in today's game. More on him later.
Probably the numbers that jump out at me from the stat sheet was how well balanced the offense was with 220 net yards passing and 218 yards running. Being well balanced like the Bills were is a great sign because it shows how the Bills can gain yards in a variety of ways. The Bills were not one dimensional today and instead they forced Tampa Bay to become one dimensional. Good Stuff! As Tampa Bay radio play-by-play man Gene Deckerhoff said, "playing the Bills Offense today is like death from 1000 lashes." And the man who lashed them worst of all was one Fred Jackson.
Quite simply Jackson is playing out of this world
For the second week in a row (and really since the end of last season) Fred Jackson is creating havoc for other teams.
As of this post he is ranked #5 in the NFL in straight rushing yards and he's a back who is just as dangerous if not moreso as a passcatcher.
Jackson is just breaking down the defense of these other teams and opening up the offense. It isn't T.O. and Evans who are giving him opportunities, so much as it's him who is drawing in the defense and giving THEM opportunities. And so far nobody has found an answer for him.
To put it into perspective the Cowboys entire stable of very talented running backs had about 118 rushing yards against the Bucs, and Jackson himself had 163! Credit too goes to the Offensive line who are indeed worthy of praise and improved over last years squad, but the fact is during some of these plays Jackson is making these plays pretty much by himself or on second effort.
What this guy is doing is simply incredible and I didn't think I could compliment him anymore last week and he plays even better THIS week.
Defense once again delivers points
It was another rather rocky road for the Defense but during crunch time they were able to hold the Buccaneers and a few times they were even able to strike back.
I think we can put to rest the whole "Whitner is not a play maker argument"at least as long as he plays like this. After having a very solid if not exciting night at New England, Donte Whitner took an interception to the house and stood up the Buccaneers on 4th down. (The Bills are making teams who try to run on them on 4th and 1 pay)
They also improved a very important category: 3rd down!
Limiting the Buccaneers to only 25% completion percentage was key to their win.
One strange issue was they had trouble on 4th down and long. It was almost like the MORE desperate the Bucs were the more improbable completions they had (one of which was a very impressive one handed touchdown catch).
But desperation was the state the Bills defense kept the Bucs in, holding Tampa Bays supposedly feared running game under 57 measly yards.
Keith Ellison and Bryan Scott also were two important pieces on the defense, with Scott getting a controversial interception, and Ellison adding to his growing number of tackles. (as of now he is #2 in the NFL at 27 and is tied with another stellar tackler London Fletcher. He's also only 1 away from Panther Thomas Davis at 28)
The Dline also played as a unit and generated pressure (Leftwich was constantly taking shots).
Special Teams and Penalties.
The best part of the Bills special teams was perhaps the weakest last year: Kicker Rian Lindell has hit every single field goal he has been asked to hit. Our traditionally excellent coverage and return teams have looked a bit average in fact have times have cost the team substantially. This is one area where I hope progress will come soon. The Bills did better with Penalties in this game, limiting alot of the holding and false starts and also the basic penalties like not being lined up correctly (AHEM except you Josh Reed!) But the Buccaneers were just destroyed by penalties specifically Facemask.
Injuries may loom large
If one thing may have been understated it's how physical this game was. There was alot of HARD hitting. Just ask Trent Edwards who took a shot that I'm sure caused many Bills fan's hearts to skip a beat. Naturally along with the hard hits there were also injuries. On the Bills side OT Brad Butler and TE Derek Schouman seemed to injure their knees pretty badly, tests will be upcoming. TE Shawn Nelson, and CB Leodis McKelvin also left the game. Schouman was the only player carted off the field. With Derek Fine's injury, all three of Buffalo's Tight Ends are injured. And it remains to be seen if any can play. Fortunately the Bills have a player on the practice squad who is extremely well thought of on Buffalo Rumblings, Jonathan Stupar, who once broke his foot.
Stampede Sunday Game ball.
I missed those corny Stampede Sundae ice cream player interviews where they would give a make an exhausted player answer fan mail while awkwardly gripping a frozen half gallon of ice cream so in that spirit I'm bringin' it back minus the interviews and the ice cream and the...okay so it's NOTHING like it, I'm sorry. I do award an offensive AND defensive winner however!
D: Donte Whitner
O: Fred Jackson
Next week the Bills will be playing the dangerous Saints, and hopefully Buffalo will not lose any more CBs in the meantime. Thanks for reading!!